smart kid in glasses

What Skill Does Your Next Social Media Hire Need Most?

By: Sophie Maerowitz

June 20, 2019

From adjusting paid social bids to scheduling posts for the day to operationalizing platform-specific strategies, social media professionals are expected to stay on top of a lot. (And that’s all before breakfast.) As social media platforms continue evolve, this to-do list will likely only grow. Hopefully your department has budget to hire some help and ease the workload. Or maybe you plan to take on some college interns this summer or fall to assist in feeding your ever-hungry content calendar.

Before you start growing your team, however, it’s crucial to boil down exactly what skills you’re looking for in a new social media hire before a recruiter starts conducting phone screens. Is your ideal hire a data scientist, adept at tying social metrics to business outcomes? Or are their DSLR and Illustrator chops unbeatable? Maybe they’re a talented wordsmith, or a scholar of popular culture. Perhaps they’re all of those things.

To get to the bottom of the ideal social media skillset,  The Social Shake-Up asked our community of social media practitioners to share with us which of the following skills are paramount:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the broadest term, “storytelling,” took the prize with 58 percent of the vote, as for many it encompasses the visual, lingual and strategic. To dive a bit deeper, we asked some of The Social Shake-Up Show’s past speakers to pick which one of the four options above made the biggest difference in social marketers’ overall proficiency, and why.

Despite the online proliferation of video, photography, AR, VR, live streaming and animation—not to mention futurist arguments that the next generation will communicate solely in images and emojis—”writing” won out in our second round of questioning.

Two senior marketers told us that facility with the written word is the baseline skill on top of which the rest (visuals, measurement, storytelling) should sit. For Kelly Stone, senior director of global social media at nonprofit trade association CompTIA, writing wins “hands down.”

To Stone, the other skills on the list are trainable, but a talent for writing must be inherent. “I have an amazing creative team, and I can teach people how to create effective social media posts. The basic tenets of composing a tweet with accurate, compelling information that’s free of grammatical errors is what sets a great practitioner apart,” she argues.

“I cannot stress how critical it is for a social media marketer to write well,” agreed Steve Denker, senior director of marketing at Turner Classic Movies. “This includes short-form posts and long-form articles. Whether it be creative writing meant to connect with the reader emotionally, or informative copy that delivers a functional request for action, good copywriting is a key factor of user engagement.”

Would-be social media interns, this is your call to action: Keep developing your writing chops once the semester ends. Start a blog, contribute articles to your school paper or favorite online publication or join a weekly writing group to establish personal deadlines. Read voraciously to learn from the greats. Your career, and the vast social media audience that comes with it, await.

Follow Sophie: @SophieMaerowitz


At The Social Shake-Up